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Onnoghen: Appeal Court Withholds Judgment on Four Appeals

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Justice Walter Onnoghen has five pending appeals before the Court of Appeal in Abuja, but none of them was decided before he was convicted and removed from office by the Code of Conduct Tribunal on Thursday, Saturday PUNCH has learnt.

Onnoghen filed the sixth appeal on Thursday to challenge his conviction by the CCT.

The appeals were filed within the three months the historic trial of the ex-CJN lasted.

One of the five pre-judgment appeals Onnoghen filed on March 29 to challenge the CCT’s decision to dismiss his no-case submission has not been heard as the defence and prosecution have yet to exchange briefs on it.

While four out of the six pending appeals were heard on February 27,  the Court of Appeal continues to withhold its judgments on them about seven weeks after the verdicts were reserved.

Speaking with our correspondent on Friday, one of the lawyers in Onnoghen’s legal team, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), confirmed that with the one filed on Thursday to challenge the conviction, there were six appeals relating to the trial at the Court of Appeal.

He said, “Before the judgment on Thursday, we had five appeals. But with the one filed yesterday (Thursday), we now have six appeals.

“Out of the six appeals, four have been heard, but judgments have not been delivered despite having been heard many weeks ago.”

Asked on Friday if the defence team had received the date for the judgments, Uche said, “no”.

Although the constitution gives a court a period not more than three months to deliver its judgment or ruling after the hearing of any application or a suit, Onnoghen’s legal team and aides have been expressing concerns about the delayed judgments of the Court of Appeal.

Onnoghen’s lead defence counsel in his trial at CCT, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), had in The PUNCH’s earlier report expressed disappointment with the development when responding to our correspondent’s enquiry.

He said, “We are highly disappointed that the Court of Appeal has not delivered its judgments on the appeals by the CJN despite the far-reaching constitutional implications of the appeals.

“This is a case that affects the judiciary, but things have slowed down at the Court of Appeal.”

But the prosecuting counsel, Mr Aliyu Umar (SAN), who led the Federal Government’s team to oppose the appeals at the higher court, had also in The PUNCH’s report dismissed the concerns expressed by the defence in an interview with our correspondent.

“The Court of Appeal has three months within which to give judgments, and they are still within their right, as long as they don’t exceed three months,” Umar said.

One of  Onnoghen’s four appeals already heard by the Court of Appeal challenged the jurisdiction of the CCT to hear the non-declaration of assets charges instituted against him before the CCT.

Another appeal challenged the February 23 ex parte order which President Muhammadu Buhari relied on to suspend him as the CJN  and to appoint Justice Tanko Muhammad as the acting CJN on February 25.

The third appeal challenged the CCT’s refusal to be bound by the orders made by the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court directing the tribunal to halt the CJN’s trial.

The fourth one asked the court to set aside the arrest warrant issued against him by the CCT on February 13.

On February 27, a three-man bench of the court led by Justice Steven Adah finally heard the four appeals and reserved judgments, after the cases had been previously adjourned on three occasions.

Justice Adah, who led Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson and Justice Peter Ige on the panel, said the date for the judgments would be communicated to the parties when the judgments are ready.

But seven weeks after no date for the judgment has been communicated.

The remaining two appeals yet to be heard are the ones challenging the March 28 ruling of the CCT, on Onnoghen’s no-case submission, and another challenging the judgment of the tribunal which convicted him on Thursday.

The three-man tribunal led by Danladi Umar after convicting Onnoghen, ordered his removal as the CJN and the Chairman of both the National Judicial and the Federal Judicial Service Commission.

The tribunal banned him from holding any public officer for a period of 10 years.

The tribunal also ordered the forfeiture of the money in the five bank accounts which the defendant failed to declare as part of his assets in breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

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Napoli Consider Renaming Stadium after Diego Maradona

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Napoli are considering renaming their stadium in memory of Diego Maradona after the club legend died aged 60.

Maradona, regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, forged a strong bond with the Italian club and its supporters during his seven-year spell between 1984 and 1991.

The forward, who inspired Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, joined Napoli from Barcelona and won their only two Serie A titles – in 1987 and 1990 – along with the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup.

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis confirmed following Maradona’s death that the club will discuss renaming their stadium in his honour, combining its current title with his full iconic name, Sky reports.

“We can consider the idea of calling our stadium San Paolo-Diego Armando Maradona,” De Laurentiis told French sports channel RMC Sport.

Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris supported the proposal that the city’s San Paolo Stadium be renamed for Maradona, who scored 81 goals in 188 appearances for the club.

“We are already putting it together this morning, taking the first steps to dedicate Naples stadium to Maradona,” De Magistris said.

The Mayor added: “We’re hoping to make it coincide with the resumption of games with fans.”

Fans gathered outside the stadium, which was lit in memory of Maradona’s time at the club, in the southern Italian city on Wednesday evening.

Tributes have poured in from the world of football and beyond, with three days of national mourning underway in Argentina.

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Implement People’s Demands Or Set Nigeria on Fire, Wike Tells Buhari

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prove to Nigerians that he is ready to do the people’s requests.

The governor said the President will set the country ‘on fire’ by not implementing some of the requests voiced out by leaders during the recent discussions with the presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari.

The PUNCH had reported that Gambari led ministers and federal lawmakers to meetings with leaders of the six geopolitical zones as a way of addressing concerns raised in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.

Gambari and the presidential delegation had met with governors and leaders of the South-South geopolitical zone in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Tuesday.

At the meeting, the South-South leaders including the Rivers State governor demanded the restructuring of the country in line with the principle of true federalism, saying it will guarantee peace, security and stability in the country.

Giving an update on the meeting on Thursday morning, Wike said the President still has time to implement the will of the people and etch a legacy for himself.

The governor spoke today on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme monitored by The PUNCH.

He said, “I am not a pessimist. I don’t believe that because you didn’t do what you agreed to do yesterday, therefore, you will not do what you agree to do today. Even if he (Buhari) has not done what he told Nigerians he would do, he can say, look, I promised Nigerians yesterday, I didn’t do that and that is affecting my integrity and so, for people who know me, I will implement what I have said.

“People have raised the issue that they don’t think anything will come out of the dialogues. I don’t agree with them. I believe that if the President does not do it, given the opportunity he has now, he will be putting Nigeria on fire.”

Continuing, Wike said political will to implement what the people want is key in governance.

According to him, the President has to show leadership by listening to Nigerians and by implementing the people’s requests.

“He may not necessarily implement everything the people may want but let the people see the concrete evidence that under President Buhari, he has been able to implement one, two, three, four demands by the people.

“If he (Buhari) doesn’t take this opportunity now to implement some of these requests, I don’t think it will be very good for Nigerians and for his legacy,” the governor added.

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Legendary Football Star, Diego Amando Maradona Dies at 60

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Diego Maradona, one of football’s greatest-ever players, has died. He was 60 years.

The 1986 World Cup winner had surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month. The Argentine Football Association confirmed he had died this afternoon.

“The Argentine Football Association, through its president Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You will always be in our hearts,” they said.

Another of football’s greats, Pele, has led the tributes to: “Certainly, one day we’ll kick a ball together in the sky above.” Follow latest updates and reaction here.

Dr Leopoldo Luque, Maradona’s personal physician, said the former player had shown signs of improvement after a successful operation three weeks ago.

Dr Luque said Maradona “laughed” and “grabbed my hand” just a day after he had the procedure.

“Diego is without any type of neurological deficit, without any type of complication associated with surgery,” Luque said, addressing reporters at the clinic’s door.

“He has an excellent post-operative period, the laboratory parameters even improved.

“The first impression is it is favourable, but it is difficult to evaluate.”

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